Goodwill

My family just now got back from picking my old son up from college, and since his college is located in the picturesque town of Ashland, Oregon, we turned it into a mini-vacation. Of course, no vacation, mini or otherwise is complete without some frugal maneuvers.

  1. The only shopping I did was at Goodwill and their local Friends of The Library sale. I bought a vintage Sasha doll for $3.99, which I’ll fix up to sell and will likely pay for the entire motel bill.
  2. We ate two meals at the University’s cafeteria, as my son son still had multiple guest passes left on his meal plan. We paid a pretty penny for that plan, so there was no freaking way I would let them go to waste! Luckily, our motel was across the street from the campus, so this was super convenient.
  3. Instead of shelling out big bucks to see one of the amazing Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays, we arranged one day to be able to watch one of the free performances on their outdoor green stage, which are daily at 6:45 P.M.
  4. I took a few minutes to peruse the dumpster adjacent to the dorms and was rewarded with a new looking Ikea bath mat. (It was actually hanging off the dumpster, not actually in it.) My sister has this mat, and I’m always tempted to pick one up for myself, but have never been willing to pull the trigger for this $9.99 item. Also . . . I follow The Compact and try not to buy anything new. So yeah, free bathmat! Or, if you prefer . . . $23,000 bath mat!
  5. Although we splurged on a delicious brunch at the Morning Glory Cafe, we made one last stop at the school’s cafeteria to get food for our 5-1/2 hour drive home. Because yes, my son still had additional guest passes left on his meal plan account. I brought in my tiffins and filled them up with cut fruit, cookies and ravioli. This action saved us between $20 and $40 depending on where we might have stopped for a meal.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Hello, gorgeous. I’ve been thinking about you.

We’ve been together almost twenty years now, and your allure beckons as much as the day we first met. I got you on the rebound from the furniture-selling Van Gronas. The classified ad in The Village Voice was officially for a couch, but your hefty beauty stole my heart. That couch is long gone. But here you are, still with me, still nourishing my secret shameful need — extra iron in my diet.

Other pans have come and gone. Le Creuset with flashy colors that soon appeared dated. Non-stick, with its possibly carcinogenic lining. But your matte black surface, so silky, so smooth, so — dare I say it? — sensuous. Your hotness never goes out of style.

Sometimes I think I may have loved you too much, but a slow gentle caress with an oily rag revives your former loveliness. If only that were all it took for my youthful beauty to return. Like Dorian Grey, you appear to never age.

(Botox, Katy? No thanks, I’ll just rub my face with an oily rag.)

Other pans may tempt me, but I know we will overcome all obstacles. Our love is that which ignites the heavens. Like Romeo and Juliet, Bogey and Bacall, Charo and Captain Stubing.

If I have not said it before, I’ll say it now. I love you! You had me at iron fortification.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 8, 2016 · 51 comments

  1. Yesterday was my son’s high school graduation, and instead of going to a restaurant I pre-prepared a meal that could be shared with lots of family. It was simple but there were no complaints. It worked out especially well since we ended up having a fairly short period of time between his ceremony and his high school’s “all night party.”
  2. My son needed to bring his swimsuit to the party, but when I pulled them from the swim bag I was met with that awful “scritch” sound that only comes from spent elastic. (Seriously, I think that sound is worse than fingernails against a chalkboard!) There wasn’t time to begin a search for a new/used suit, so I called my mom and asked her to bring some elastic to the graduation ceremony. She then threaded new elastic through the swim trunks and my son was rewarded a perfectly serviceable suit. Thanks, mom!
  3. I had to stay up to go fetch my son at the crack of dawn, so I used the time to finish writing up a Clark Howard article.
  4. The leftovers from last night will serve as road trip food, as we are driving down on Friday to pick our older son up from college.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Thrift Store Unitaskers

by Katy on June 6, 2016 · 33 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Like speciality items? You know, like bowls with the word “Salsa” painted on them. Bowls that could not possibly hold cereal or even some tortilla chips.

Nah, I didn’t think so. I’m kind of fond of household items that serve a number of purposes, and I’ve observed that thrift store donators seem to feel the same way. Because there sure are a lot of odd single use or Unitaskers items that clutter up the Goodwill shelves. For example:

This bowl is for popcorn. Popcorn only. Nothing else!

Chicken soup? Lentil soup? No, TOMATO SOUP ONLY!

Finally, I no longer have to be stumped as to where to keep my melted butter and corn on the cob. (My doctor recommended that I ingest a daily cup of melted butter. At least he said he was a doctor.)

Not one, but two pans dedicated exclusively to the incredibly difficult art of boiling up some pasta. Finally! Now. . . what will I use to cook soup?

You know what I hate about my multi-purpose vegetable peeler? It doesn’t take up enough space, has too few finicky parts and is too easy to keep clean. However can I solve this dilemma?!

Please people, stop buying this crap! Take the pledge — No more unitaskers! Please.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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The following post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

TV gets a bad rap for setting unrealistic expectations for lifestyle and spending, and for the most part it’s well deserved. After all, no one on Friends ever seemed to go to work, yet they all had amazing Manhattan apartments and an aversion to inexpensively home brewed coffee. Okay . . . maybe Joey as a soap opera star could have afforded his housing, but you know that Phoebe’s part time massage therapist/musician career would have her living in squalor instead of the great apartment that she occasionally shared with Rachel.

Luckily, there are a few television shows and movies out there to combat the illusion that it’s normal to live beyond your means without consequence. Whether it’s TV or film, there are money lessons to learn from your idiot box.

Life or Debt

Hosted by salesman, author and motivational speaker Victor Antonio, this Spike TV show follows one financially troubled family per week. Antonio sits down with the family to figure what what they’re doing wrong. Whether it’s overspending, underearning or a combination of the two, Antonio does not hold back with the cold hard truth. The family proceeds to work Antonio’s plan with varying degrees of success. It’s on the dude-tastic Spike TV channel, so you know it ramps up the drama and intensity.

Ironically, this show can only be watched for “free” if you subscribe to a pricey cable-TV package, although you can watch individual episodes for $2.99 apiece through Amazon Prime. However, there are 67 video clips that you can watch for free through Spike TV for us frugal types.

‘Til Debt Do Us Part

Author and financial expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s Canadian TV show ran on CNN for a few years, and is now available to watch online HERE. Similar in format to Life or Debt, ‘Til Debt Do Us Part also works with couples who are in dire financial circumstances. The difference is that although Vaz-Oxlade doesn’t hold back on the tough love, there’s no obviously manufactured drama in the name of fake reality TV. Also, you can watch episodes for free, which helps to keep us frugal types from living outside our means.

Living on One Dollar

This documentary follows three privileged American college students who travel to rural Guatemala to try and live on one dollar per day. This film shines a light on the difficulties that billions of people throughout the world face on a daily basis. (And frankly, it puts some perspective on our own American money woes.) The lessons they learn and the relationships formed with the locals make this documentary worth your time. It’s available to watch on Netflix HERE.

Shark Tank

ABC’s show where billionaires fund struggling businesses may seem an odd choice for a must see money themed TV show, but hear me out. Watching the presentations that the entrepreneurs give to the sharks is extremely illuminating, as are the follow up questions. Having a specific and directed plan for one’s business is the key to success, whether it’s for a multi-million dollar corporation or a household budget. And best of all, full episodes are free to watch through ABC.go.com. Gotta love free!

Queen of Versailles

This documentary follows the Siegel family, whose time share fortune was brought to a crashing halt by the great recession of 2008. Their sudden reversal of fortune stopped any progress on their Versailles inspired home, which was planned to become the largest single family structure in the United States. (It’s since been completed.) Unfortunately, this film is a stark cautionary tale more than anything else. The lesson here is that living beyond your means can only lead to disaster, whether you’re keeping up with the Joneses or Marie Antoinette. Click HERE to watch The Queen of Versailles on Netflix.

Conclusion

Money lessons can be learned from those who dedicate their careers to teaching good money habits, but also from watching those who mismanage their fortunes. Either way, pop a bowl of popcorn and put your feet up. You’re in for an interesting evening of entertainment.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 20 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 2, 2016 · 64 comments

  1. I had a meeting downtown and used my bus pass to get there and back. This work perk not only saved me gasoline, but also the cost and hassle of parking the car.
  2. I was tempted by the delicioso Mexican food cart on my way home, but instead came home to scramble up some eggs and brew a cup of tea.
  3. I saw that rain was in the forecast, so I sprinkled some shade-friendly grass seed over my patchy backyard lawn. I already had the seed, so it was a sunk cost. (I refuse to water the lawn, which might explain the patchiness.)
  4. I wore my thrifted clothing, slept on thrifted sheets, packed leftovers to bring to work, walked to the grocery store, shared extra donuts with a neighbor, got paid for something I sold awhile back, submitted a Clark Howard article and I sent my husband to the DMV and DEQ to register the car. I was pulled over by the police last week, as my tags were expired, but he told me that all would be forgiven if I took care of it within 30 days.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Last Day of High School!

by Katy on June 1, 2016 · 33 comments

Today is my younger son’s very last day of high school, which is a momentous occasion. All my thousands of hours spent parenting a student are complete. Yes, he’s off to university in the fall, but the responsibility of his schoolwork will be 100% his own. No more e-mails to teachers, no more packed school lunches, no more asking “what do you have for homework?” (Note that I never asked “do you have homework?” as that question can lead to the answer “no.”)

I am deeply proud of this guy. Congratulations, kid! I can’t wait to see what life brings you.

My guy

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 31, 2016 · 58 comments

Curry kit

  1. I prepared curry from a fancy $1.99 dinner kit that I picked up at The Grocery Outlet a few months ago. The instructions called for chicken, but I didn’t have any on hand, so instead I diced potato and added peas and red pepper that I’d frozen last week from my EMS Week food freebies. Served over rice, it was absolutely delicious!
  2. I’m planning a high school graduation party for my younger son. It’s not until June 19th, but since I’ll be working at the hospital the previous two days, I’m getting organized early. My goal is to avoid single use items, as well as keeping the party as inexpensive as possible. So far I’ve figured out that I can borrow extra silverware, a large folding table and a fire pit for s’mores. Food will be stuff I can pre-prepare and drinks will be simple like lemonade and flavored water. I used Evite for the invitations and have been sprucing up the backyard using nothing more than my own sweat equity. I’ve asked people to not bring gifts, as there’s no point in keeping it frugal for our family, if that comes at a cost for our guests.
  3. I renewed my library books, although one went overdue at a cost of 50¢.
  4. I brought our May budget up to date, and put our June budget together. Next month will be tighter than usual, as there are a number of days where I am unavailable to work due to graduation events, a family wedding and driving down to Ashland, Oregon to pick up our college student. However, these are all wonderful moments in our life, so everything is good. Also, “tighter” simply means less money toward the college fund, rather than not enough money for expenses, which is pretty great place to be.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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The following post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

Do you watch the HGTV channel and lament that you’ll never be able to afford the luxurious home accents featured throughout their programming? Worry not, as your local Habitat ReStore can get you that high end look for a fraction of the original price. These stores sell both new, used and leftover building supplies at extremely low prices which then go to fund Habitat for Humanity.

Get that House Hunters look:

It’s almost a cliché that the buyers featured on House Hunters walk into a home and rule out any house without stainless steel appliances. (As if the color white would somehow undo the functionality of the machinery.) So if you’re in the camp that feels that stainless steel is a must, you can source like-new appliances from your local ReStore.

Just check out this LG stainless steel microwave priced at $20!

stainless steel microwave

Get that Flip or Flop look:

Watch even a single episode of HGTV’s Flip or Flop and you’ll quickly learn that a tiled backsplash is a pivotal component to every single kitchen makeover. From pre-arranged sheets to classic subway tile, it’s the polished look that California buyers (and HGTV viewers) have come to expect. However, you don’t have to pay $100/square foot if you’re savvy enough to shop the Habitat ReStore.

Check out these prices:

Habitat ReStore prices

The variety might not be as extensive as what you’d find at Home Depot, but with all the money you’ll save, surely you can alter your design plan.

Seriously, check out at the subway tile choices from just a single ReStore shelf!

ReStore tile shelf

Get that Fixer Upper look:

If you’re a fan of this hit show, then you already know that no Fixer Upper house is complete without featured wood accents. Whether it’s shiplap or picture frame molding, it’s a necessary component for your remodel! Lucky you, as Habitat ReStores are bursting at the seams with wood, both new and salvaged. It might take a trip to two to get enough for your feature wall/headboard/kitchen island, but you’ll sleep better knowing how little you paid.

Picture frame molding

Get that Rehab Addict look:

HGTV’s Rehab Addict is already a pretty frugal show, as host Nicole Curtis is loathe to waste money on ripping out quality shelving or sending perfectly good building components to the landfill. An episode where she pulled a lighting fixture that someone had put into her dumpster comes to mind, as she was quick to repaint it for her entryway ceiling.

Although Curtis is quick to criticize those who paint over original stain on vintage furniture or house parts, she’ll still grab a paint roller and a gallon of re-tinted paint in a Detroit minute. Of course, paint can be expensive, but worry not as your Habitat ReStore has you covered.

Habitat ReStore paint

For a couple of bucks, you’ll walk out with perfectly good paint or stain for your DIY project. I know this, as I repainted a Goodwill dresser last year featuring a $2 pot of ReStore Paint!

Whichever HGTV show sparks your personal remodeling inspiration, you can get that look for pennies on the dollar while supporting a worthy non profit. Throw in that you’ll be saving construction and remodeling supplies from the landfill? Perfection.

Click HERE to find your nearest Habitat ReStore!

Bonus Tip: Follow your local Habitat ReStore on Facebook to view their latest inventory for your own HGTV inspired home. Check out the Portland, Oregon’s ReStore page HERE! 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 29, 2016 · 52 comments

cap and gown

  1. My son picked up his loaner cap and gown from the counseling office at his high school. I was telling a co-worker about this savings/zero waste hack, and was asked how much it would have cost to have simply bought the cap and gown. I was unsure, since I never even considered buying one, so I asked a different co-worker how much she’d just paid for her son’s. Her answer was $200, as she opted for the package which included graduation announcements and a commemorative T-shirt. This reminded me to put a request on my son’s school’s Facebook page asking parents to donate their caps and gown back to the school for future graduates.
  2. I agreed to work 4th of July as a favor for a friend, which will give me three 12-hour hospital shifts in a row. I normally only work two shifts per week, so this is a huge aberration for me. However, it’ll be nice to get the enormous paycheck when it comes time to start writing double college tuition checks this fall. (Plus, my friend was desperate for someone to cover her shift which was in the middle of otherwise approved vacation days.)
  3. I stopped at The Grocery Outlet last night, as I was in the neighborhood after dropping my son at indoor soccer. I was in a weirdly pissed off mood and ended up buying a lot of junk. However, the store’s so cheap that the financial aftermath was minimal. Needless to say, my husband was baffled by my purchases and my son was over the moon.
  4. I got rid of an unused welcome mat through my local Buy Nothing Group.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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